The right to clear information

December 9, 2015 by Martine Rodrigue

Avoir droit à de l’information claire

While our means of communication grow and evolve at an ever-increasing pace, an important obstacle remains—one that’s often overlooked: the challenges faced by the elderly when it comes to reading and writing and thus getting clear information.

In one of its papers, ICEA, the institute for cooperation in adult education, reminds us that “a society looking to strengthen the role of its elderly cannot ignore the fact that many of them lack the reading and writing skills necessary to fill out a form, understand medication instructions, or make sense of the information in a pamphlet.”

A different time

The above statement may be surprising. But let’s be clear: we’re not talking about illiteracy. The society in which our elders played an active role simply favoured speech over writing as a means of transferring knowledge, unlike today. Not to mention that communication and information technology can add an extra layer of difficulty for some elderly people.

Today’s reality

As front-line workers, professionals, friends, and family, we need to actively promote the rights of the elderly to clear, accessible information so that they can make informed decisions in their daily lives. Even if it takes a bit of time and runs counter to our pursuit of greater speed and efficiency.

We need to be aware of the signs coming from those around us, find new ways of improving access to adequate health care, and increase our understanding of the dynamics involved in each person’s needs. Same goes for the economic needs and social participation of the elderly. We are of the opinion that this would help the elderly play a greater role in the decisions that affect them.

Recommended reading (in French)

“Le langage clair”

Reference :
DIGNARD, Hervé. « Répondre aux besoins des aînés en matière de littératie ». Institut de coopération pour l’éducation des adultes, 2007. Viewed online on 2015-08-14:

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